New Guidance: Tech and Protecting Student Data

Published : Wednesday, March 12, 2014 | 2:20 AM

In 1981, National PTA’s Board of Directors first adopted a position statement on the importance of protecting student data and privacy. Over three decades later, the growth and use of technology has provided for greater opportunities in the classroom, but also caution from families and education professionals around the protection of student data and privacy. This week, the U.S. Department of Education’s Privacy Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) released new guidance to help school systems and educators interpret and understand laws and best practices in protecting student privacy.

For today’s post, from Cameron Brenchley from the U.S. Department of Education on the new guidance.

http://www.ed.gov/blog/2014/02/new-guidance-tech-and-protecting-student-data/

Today, more than ever, schools and districts are managing a lot of digital data. Some of that has to do with teaching and learning, but there’s plenty more: from bus routes, to food service records, to enrollment and attendance information. Districts and schools are working to be more efficient and smarter about storing and using data. Many have chosen to move data “in the cloud,” meaning off-site data centers that securely store information.

This advancement in data storage has created some important and reasonable questions about what steps are being taken to insure that student data is kept secure and private. In a speech yesterday at the Common Sense Media Privacy Zone Conference, in Washington, D.C., Secretary of Education Arne Duncan reaffirmed that school systems “owe families the highest standard of security and privacy.”

“What I want to say to you today is that the benefits for students of technological advancement can’t be a trade-off with the security and privacy of our children.
We must provide our schools, teachers and students cutting-edge learning tools. And we must protect our children’s privacy. We can and must accomplish both goals – but we will have to get smarter to do it.”

Duncan noted that many school systems are showing leadership on the privacy front, such as the Kansas State Department of Education, which has developed an innovative data quality certification program to train staff on data quality practices and techniques, including privacy and security.

 

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